This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here because the All LED Lighting site has gone dark. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.


Monday Roundup: Betting Big on Silicon

This week: light bulb standards enforcement defunded again, a light bulb exchange, and Toshiba bids for 10% of global white LED market.

Toshiba swings for the fences has a summary of a report attributed to the Japanese newspaper Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun. It says that Toshiba plans to invest $490 million over the next 2+ years to increase its capacity to manufacture LEDs by a factor of up to 150 -- from 10 million LEDs per month to 1.5 billion per month. Toshiba is expecting the lower prices it hopes to offer, leveraging the GaN-on-Si technology it bought from Bridgelux, to win it 10% of the global market for white LEDs by 2016. Toshiba now makes these LEDs on 8 inch (200 mm) wafers.

China-based Lattice Power gets investment for GaN-on-Si
The company closed an $80 million investment round with Asia Pacific Resources Development Investment, Crescent HydePark, GSR Ventures, and Mayfield Fund. The CEO of the company, Sonny Wu, seems to believe that no one else has cracked the problem of layering gallium nitride on silicon to produce LEDs. A Wall Street Journal blog quotes him as saying: "We are the only company in China that has systematically invested in research and development. We solved a problem the Germans, the Koreans, and the Americans can't solve." The Journal's blogger talked to an analyst who seems to share these beliefs:

Many large manufacturers have tried to make silicon-based LEDs, [Lux Research analyst] Ms. Madakasira said, but no product of note, with low prices and comparable performance, has so far come to market in large volumes. Mr. Wu said Lattice Power is the one to have overcome the challenges others faced.

Both LEDs Magazine and the WSJ note that Lattice Power LEDs have not been observed in any products. Wu says they have sold mostly inside China, but he expects that to change as the company opens facilities in Korea, Taiwan, and the US over the next few years.

Amendment to keep light bulb standards defunded
The usual suspect in the US House of Representatives -- i.e., Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) -- is once again pushing legislation to make sure the Energy Department can't spend any money in the coming year to enforce light bulb efficiency standards. This time he is expected to attach an amendment to the must-pass Energy Appropriations Bill. For years Burgess has led the battle to make sure US citizens continue to have the right to burn the inefficient incandescent bulbs of their choice.

Opposition is expected in the Democratic-controlled Senate, if the House sends it an appropriations bill thus amended.

A light bulb exchange
Last month the city of Stratford, Ct., ran a light bulb exchange program at the local Home Depot. People could bring in two incandescent bulbs and exchange them for two Cree 60 W-equivalent dimmable LED bulbs. The exchange was hosted by Energize Connecticut, a state initiative. Eight hundred households took advantage of the offer (or maybe they came for just the free hot dogs and soda) -- nearly 4% of the households in the city. I wonder how many of them were first-time LED adopters, and how many already had swapped out their incandescents and were just taking advantage of the freebie.

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